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2016 NJCAA Indoor National Awards Announced

NEW ORLEANS — National Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2016 NJCAA Indoor Track & Field season were announced Wednesday by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

These awards were determined voted on by USTFCCCA member coaches based on performances both at this past weekend’s NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships and througout the entire regular season.

Information on each of the winners can be found below.

 

NATIONAL ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

MEN’S TRACK – Festus Lagat, Gillette
Lagat, a freshman from Eldoret, Kenya, showed the greatest range of any distance runner in the NJCAA ranks in 2016. He ultimately won NJCAA national titles both in the mile (4:12.66) and at 1000 meters (2:31.43), but he entered the championships with top-six qualifying times in every event between 600 meters and 5000 meters. He entered the Championships as the top seed at both 800 and 1000 meters and in the mile, plus was No. 2 at 5000 meters, No. 4 at 600 meters and No. 6 at 3000 meters. His only individual race of the season that didn’t result in one his ten individual victories came in the national 800-meter final, where he recorded a DNF.

WOMEN’S TRACK – Leanne Pompeani, Iowa Central CC
Pompeani, a freshman from Canberra, Australia, capped off a record-breaking indoor season with two NJCAA national titles and a championships record. She claimed the 5000-meter crown in a new meet-record 16:55.62 after earlier in the season breaking the overall NJCAA record in the event at 16:42.07, and she also won the national 3000-meter race in 9:51.50. She added a runner-up finish in the mile and a leg of the third-place distance medley relay to power the national team champion Tritons.

MEN’S FIELD – Jamal Whittaker, Iowa Central CC
Whittaker, a sophomore from Apopka, Florida, helped lead the Triton men to a national team title with a win the weight throw and a runner-up finish in the weight throw. He tossed the weight a career-best 19.14m (62-9½) to lead a 1-2 Iowa Central finish in the event, and also went 17.79m (58-4½) in the shot for second place. He won the NJCAA Region XI Championships in the shot put, and finished fifth in the weight throw.   

WOMEN’S FIELD – Portious Warren, Central Arizona
Warren, a freshman from the British Virgin Islands, broke a long-standing NJCAA record in the shot put this regular season. Her throw of 16.43m (53-11) at the CAC Indoor Invitational topped the heave of 16.36m (53-8 ¼) that she originally broke the record with earlier this season. She won the shot put title at the NJCAA Championships with a toss of 16.29m (53-5½).

NATIONAL COACHES OF THE YEAR

MEN’S HEAD COACH – Denny Myers, Iowa Central CC
Myers, in his seventh year with Iowa Central, led his squad to their fourth NJCAA title in the past six seasons after topping the USTFCCCA National Team Rankings every week of the year. The Tritons scored 132 points to win by 26½ points over last year’s national champion, South Plains. His athletes combined for four event titles and scored in all but four events. Prior to the NJCAA Championships, his men scored a decisive win in the Region XI Indoor Championships.

WOMEN’S HEAD COACH – Denny Myers, Iowa Central CC
Myers, in his seventh year with Iowa Central, led his squad to their fourth NJCAA title in the past seven seasons in an upset win over pre-meet favorite New Mexico JC. The Tritons scored 115 points to topple the Thunderbirds, who posted 107 points. Myers’ athletes won four national titles and scored in all but five events. Prior to the NCAA Championships, his women won the Region XI Championships, 265-210, over rival Iowa Western.

MEN’S ASSISTANT COACH – Nigel Bigbee, Iowa Central CC
Bigbee, in his second year coaching the sprints, hurdles and jumps for Iowa Central, coached a group of athletes that contributed 39 points to Iowa Central’s team title effort. He coached Odaine Lewis to a win in the triple jump and Jah-Nhai Perinchief to fourth in that event. Perenchief also won the high jump title. His athletes also scored in the long jump, the 400, the 60-meter hurdles and the 4×400 relay.

WOMEN’S ASSISTANT COACH – Shirvon Greene, Monroe
Greene, in his eighth year coaching distance events at Monroe, played a key role in Monroe’s third-place NJCAA team standings finish. His athletes accounted for three national titles and two more third-place efforts for 42 of Monroe’s 92 points. Susan Ejore had a hand in those three titles with wins at 1000 meters and in the mile, and the anchor leg of the winning distance medley relay. Nokuthula Diamini finished third both at 3000 and 5000 meters, and ran the opening leg of the DMR.